by Robyn de Klerk
The original poem:
After perception and thought
With perception and thought
Behold what lies
Behind your mind
After perception and concept
With perception and conception
Behold what lies
Within your mind:
Perhaps the best fusion:
After percept and concept
With perception and conception
Behold what lies
Within your mind
Which still sounds a bit too scientific so maybe:
After experience and reflection
With interest and consideration
Behold what lies
Within your mind
I feel the second version answers the question immediately and abstractly whereas the others are a call to activate oneself inwardly, with the first and last being the more poetic. The value of the riddle lies in the pondering...
by Robyn de Klerk
I imagine that "this year" is a first for our planet and our solar system. As the multitude of far-reaching effects continue to develop around the world it has never been more important to think in a new way. If we are to evolve we need to imagine ways of doing things differently. And in order for these to bear fruit they need to be held within a meaningful context - a context that includes both time and space, and the boundless and eternal. Having passed from our image-imbued connection with the spiritual worlds to our ability to be self-aware and think clearly as individual beings we have attained the possibility of freedom. The purpose of this Freedom is to develop Love. While we are here upon our Earth for our life of time we are given a precious opportunity: a chance to do something that, as I understand it, we can only do here: Change.
Aside from the times, I am inspired to mention this through a number of experiences in this community that I wish to share with us. Firstly, from remembering Steffen's talk given last September on the theme of Imagining the picture of Michael as a guide to fulfilling our task in modern life. In this talk he spoke about the importance of Imagination to balance the past and create the future. One of the references in this talk was to a book written by Michael Ende called The Neverending Story. In this tale the young hero has to fight and pass through the great Nothing and by doing so discovers that he has the seeds to create a new world. I found a copy of the book for Sophia, who wished to read it, and have since found a copy of another one of his books called Momo (also known as The Grey Gentlemen). Please let me know if you would like to borrow either of them. They are both good adventures.
Another inspiration came from re-reading Ulrich and Brigitte's farewell poem to us where they speak of how spiritual beings offer up their substance so that the world can continue to exist. Awareness of this - which requires the work of Imagination - can lead to a deep sense of gratitude and awaken in us the impulse to treat our fellow humans and all beings with love and generosity. Through doing this we can bring joy to these beings who make our life possible.
Also, in our explorations through the discourses of Michaël Merle, contemplations from Reingard and our most recent community gathering the importance and potential of exercising and strengthening this creative capacity for Imagination has been gently and earnestly present. Imagination becomes Revelation - a place where something can come to meet us from the future.
And, finally, a particular inspiration comes from Eileen Tippett. I did not know her well but she was in my periphery for a good while. I planted some of the snapdragon seeds handed out at her funeral and being a longterm budding gardener it's always a bit of a gamble on what will actually come up. A snapdragon plant did rise out of the ground and despite some plumbing work and the area being dug up, it survived and continued to grow throughout the whole of winter. It is still going. One long stem, over a metre tall, with blooms that have turned to seedpods lower down, continues to flower and strive towards the sky. A good imagination for right now. At her funeral I was particularly drawn to a prayer by Adam Bittleston which was printed on the last page of her funeral booklet. It was taken from her diary and I have since written it in at the back of mine - which is how I came across it recently as we are nearly at the end of "this year". I share it here:
When we go out into the world as we have made it,
Everywhere there speaks to us forgetfulness of the Spirit.
If human work were to be without love
The Earth would become a bleak and barren desert.
Through forgetfulness of the Spirit
Love ebbs away.
Bring to mind in us, O Christ,
Inspirer of true human love,
How we have come to the Earth
From the fields of light,
From the heights of the Spirit.
May remembrance of God
Grow strong in our souls,
Overcoming the mists
Which hide from us the purpose
In the work of each day.
(by Adam Bittleston from Meditative Prayers for Today)
by Andreas van Breda
A group of children at the Moonlight Market in Bryanston were comparing notes of their future career ambitions. I was one of them and remember giving my answer with the same certainty as the other children. My answer, however, seemed to rouse a more curious response then the ones before. "I will be a priest!" is, I suppose, an audacious aim for a 6 year old.
Well, I had to forget that statement for a few years and went through school, university and the school-of-life before engaging with it again. I have lived with the question of the Priesthood for most of my adult life. Whilst living in London, I attended the North America Seminary (in Chicago then) as an exploratory trip. It was a long-weekend program, open to anybody, with a particular theme and allowed the participants a glimpse into Seminary life. It was a wonderfully enriching time but for whatever reason the experience did not drive me to action. Nonetheless, looking back, I realise how a door was opened and with the passing of time has remained so.
As time went on, a little more life experience and the gift of parenthood, I began to look at the world more earnestly and the question of the priesthood appeared again, more strongly. I had ruminated on it for a long time and finally started a conversation with Richard, then Reingard and finally Vicke von Behr. These conversations evolved and it became clear that it was a path I had the intention of following and felt blessed to have the support of the regional Synod as well as Tanya (my wife). How this was going to be possible needed careful thought and I am grateful to the leadership of The Christian Community for supporting my somewhat unconventional program which began about a year and a half ago. Of course Michaël Merle has set something of a precedent, but my personal circumstances were different to his and I am enormously appreciative that it has been possible to begin my training and studies.
It has been and IS a wonderfully inspiring process, with a few nerves and unknowns thrown in for good measure. I feel 'engaged' on this path and committed to preparing myself for Ordination, whilst cognisant that that is not my sole decision.
I have been touched and humbled by the support and care which so many people have expressed in a myriad of ways and appreciate the warm encouragement from our Communities in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Windhoek.
I am underway, with much more to come and look forward to the next steps on this path. With thanks and gratitude.
Andreas van Breda
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by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
Each month one of these world views will be expanded.
This world-view has its roots in the fact that human beings are sensory beings, and ultimately in the founded experience that the world around us is also a sense world. Therefore the sense capacity of the human being corresponds to the sense expression of the material world. The sense world conveys objective truth. There is nothing ‘behind’ what we see or hear etc., no ‘real thing’, no mysterious metaphysical other world. It is when we train ourselves to use our senses selflessly, that we acquire the conditions to develop the world view of phenomenalism: to truly observe and receive unadulterated what is.
The master in using and refining this method as the tool for his scientific research and discoveries is J.W. Goethe. “The senses do not lie.”
In short: “The universe in its greatest and smallest detail is an objective reality. In its sensory expression it reveals truth. This congruent ability of authentic Being is available to human beings when they use all their senses to guide them in going deep and far enough into grasping what reveals itself.” Mario Betti
An example: I am looking for the car keys, search everywhere, again and again. Nothing. Then, instead of just searching outwardly, I can stop and search differently: become still, go inward and begin to think along the phenomena. What was I doing, where was I … more senses become active in my inner searching, until I can ‘see’ where the keys could be. Then the outer world confirms it when I find them there. We can see outwardly and inwardly, when both correspond we experience truth. Inner and outer sense world belong together.
We can take this further: in Luke chapter 4 Jesus stands on the banks of the Jordan River where an event is witnessed and experienced. And he is Joseph’s son. He is a human being of flesh and blood with a father and mother, is a child and grows into an adult. One can observe outwardly and inwardly—both observations are true and belong together. Now Christ is in Jesus, just like in every human being an ‘I’ incarnates at a certain biographical stage. Yet now the I Am is in Jesus. Together the inner and outer observation reveals a bigger, wider and more saturated, ‘more real’ understanding. Thinking and observation need, yes, seek each other.
"The Historical Journey from the time of St John to the time of the Archangel Michael: The Development of the Consciousness Soul"; a talk by Rev. Michaël Merle on 20th September 2020
by John-Peter Gernaat
This journey from St John’s Tide to Michaelmas must be seen in the context of the Christian festivals.
The Christian year begins with three festivals that flow directly into one another: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Their respective durations are the span of the four Sundays before the 25th of December, 12 Holy Nights, and the span of the four Sundays from 6th January. They complete the great birthing and arrival of Jesus and the Christ.
We then have a period to reflect on these events while preparing for the next great festivals that also flow one into another: Passion Tide (a four Sunday span), Easter (40 days), Ascension (9 days) and Whitsun (3 days).
By the end of these festivals we have lived through the full chronological path of the Christ’s journey on the earth – we complete the full Gospel story of Christ. From earliest times the important events at the beginning of this cycle were the arrival of the Magi, the Baptism in the Jordan and the Wedding at Cana. These were the celebrated events, as they held the mystery of Christ revealed (made manifest) in Jesus of Nazareth.
St John’s Tide coming after Whitsun seems somehow out of chronological sequence, as the birth and work of John the Baptist predates the ministry of Jesus. St John’s Tide is also an unusual festival in that over the centuries the Christian church has usually celebrated the death-day of saints – their entry into the spiritual world – with rare exceptions, like for St John, whose birth day is celebrated.
Between St John’s Tide and Michaelmas is a pause of ten Sundays (occasionally reduced to nine when St John’s day falls on a Monday, placing Michaelmas on the last Sunday of this pause period). And between Michaelmas and Advent is another, shorter pause (reflective time).
The festivals of St John’s Tide and Michaelmas represent a much more expansive chronology: a preparing the full way of Christ over the centuries, as a consequence of the Baptism in the Jordan. This chronology represents the time from the Baptism, represented by John the Baptist to the time of Michael as the great Time Spirit guiding humanity at the time of the appearance of the Etheric Christ.
Rudolf Steiner was not the first person to speak of the great Time Spirits. There are seven great Time Spirits from whose circle one of them steps forward to guide the evolution of humanity according to what is needed, every 350 years or so, while the others hold themselves back, so to say. Michael stepped forward as the Time Spirit in 1879, the first time since before the time of the Baptism in the Jordan. When John the Baptist called to humanity to prepare the way, he referred to this entire period of time.
In the period between St John’s Tide and Michaelmas there are ten fixed Gospel readings. (Look through old newsletter for a report on these ten readings given in a previous talk). The first five Gospel readings take us out of St John’s Tide and next five mirror the first five as they lead us into Michaelmas.
The 5th Sunday’s Gospel reading (the last echo of the St John’s period so to say) is about the man with impaired vision. He knew what he needed, and when asked by Jesus what he willed Him (Jesus) to do for him (the man), he asks Jesus for his higher sight. Upon receiving his higher sight, he is able to follow the Christ. John the Baptist is closely connected to the higher sight. He speaks words such as “look”, “see” and “behold”. For example: “I saw the Spirit descend upon him …” and “Behold the Lamb of God …” When he speaks these words to his disciples, two of his disciples leave him to follow Jesus until Jesus becomes aware that he is being followed. When Jesus asks these disciples “What are you seeking?”, they reply that they want to know where he lives, where his home – place on earth – is. This is the culmination of the work of John the Baptist.
On the 6th Sunday, the Gospel reading (mirroring the 5th and taking a first step towards Michaelmas, so to say) is about the man who cannot hear well and as a result he cannot speak clearly of what he knows – he cannot hear the spiritual world. The word Jesus speaks: “Ephphata!”, be fully opened, provides the man with a new way of hearing and he is able to proclaim the Word made flesh.
Michael steps forward as the great Time Spirit to care for humanity’s development at the time of the coming of the Etheric Christ. Since John the Baptist, humanity has fully developed the Intellectual Soul and seen the early development of the Consciousness Soul.
We know of the development of three stages of our soul: the Sentient Soul, the Intellectual Soul and the Consciousness Soul. Plato spoke often in recognition of the Intellectual Soul. The Intellectual Soul is also known as the Mind Soul or the Rational Soul. Intellectual is derived from two Latin words that mean: to understand. Hence, the Mind Soul is that development of soul that makes it possible for us to hold an understanding in our thinking, feeling and willing.
The Consciousness Soul began to develop in the early 1400’s and the first evidence of this new development is a painting by Jan van Eyck (although often ascribed to 1433, it was originally begun as a concept earlier and some believe may have been completed by 1422) formerly known as the “Man with a red turban” but later recognised from the artist’s notes as a self-portrait. This is the first self-portrait to have been painted; the first time an artist (or a human being) was fully aware of himself as the worthy subject of a portrait.
Consciousness means aware. The Consciousness Soul refers to an awareness of our higher consciousness. At this stage of the development of the Consciousness Soul we all have the capacity to be aware of ourselves in connection to the Spirit. “I can reflect on myself – my own development”.
When we look at the Gospel of Luke which relates the birth of John the Baptist and the Annunciation to Mary, we encounter the Archangel Gabriel who is “sent from God”. Gabriel was not the great Time Spirit of that time but has a particular mission connected to the birth of John and Jesus.
The artist Francesco Botticini painted the healing life journey of Tobias. (Michaël has told the story of Tobit and Tobias – see older newsletters – and he will again in the future). Tobias goes on a journey to collect a debt that will help his father. His dog journeys with him. In the marketplace – the business of life – he meets a friend who offers to accompany him on the journey. This friend is later revealed to be the Archangel Raphael. On the journey Tobias catches a fish (which he is seen carrying in the painting) that is a source of healing in the story, and he meets and marries his wife, who is a distant relative and through this marriage Tobias finds a connection to who he is. Botticini paints the young Tobias carrying his fish, with his dog, hand in hand with his companion, Archangel Raphael. But he also paints two other companions (who not mentioned in the story at all) who although walking alongside Tobias and Raphael give the appearance of one walking behind and the other leading the way. The companion walking behind is the Archangel Gabriel – who we recognise as connected with the birth of John and Jesus – and the companion leading the way, dressed very differently, in armour and holding a sword pointing upwards, is the Archangel Michael. This painting may be viewed as representing the journey from Gabriel to Michael, from St John’s Tide to Michaelmas. Gabriel represents the family into which we are born, from whom we inherit our traits. Michael goes ahead of us and turns to beacon us to keep on the way. Here is a picture of our journey from birth to a fuller development of Consciousness on the healing path of life on earth.
In the Act of Consecration of Man we can hear what the journey of our life is in the words “create”, “heal”, “ensoul”.
The journey from Gabriel (St John’s Tide) to Michael (Michaelmas) is a journey of coming to know. Anthroposophy is a great help to us but only, truly, when it is no longer a body of knowledge but becomes a way of living. This journey is one of knowing that we are bearers of the Christ. This is a part of the development of the Consciousness Soul, that we know who we are as bearers of the Christ. Our focus on this journey is towards Michael who leads with the upright sword (it is not a fighting sword). Our journey from understanding to knowing ourselves as Christians had changed over the 2000 years since the Baptism in the Jordan. This journey will be the focus of the Michaelmas conference from 9th to 11th October. There is more on the conference in this newsletter above.
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by Rev Reingard Knausenberger
What underlies the basic human existential need to be seen, to be heard, to be touched?
We are born into this world, which is a sensual world. The body we receive as our own is a finely-tuned sense organisation. Like buds opening, the chorus of twelve sense organs unfolds as the child’s body grows, the youth’s soul expands and the adult awakens evermore into unique selfhood. Our senses are the doorways which open us to engage and interact with the world around us. By nature, every human being is a sensualist.
The world-view of Sensualism as a philosophy, on the other hand, sees the human being purely as a sensual being and takes this view very seriously, sometimes to the extreme. Although the philosophy has many aspects and complexities, its basic parameter is clear:
‘I and the world are only the result of our sensory experiences’.
A sensualist in this way experiences their own senses so strongly that there can be no consideration of the world conveying anything ‘objective’. Everything is there only because of my senses.
Here it becomes clear how restrictive and exclusive a world view can become if it is declared to be the one and only valid one, but also how its contribution is highlighted, enhanced and enriched if experienced within the wholeness of the twelve world views.
It is through our senses that we ‘make sense’ of the world, they bring the light of meaning and warmth of fulfilment into our life, therefore becoming the basis for self-awareness and developing consciousness of being a Self. They are the central base from which we reach out and develop relationships with the periphery.
Christianity is the “the belief, that loves the earth” (as an inspired book title said). That means this earth which we can see, touch, feel, hear…the earth is made to meet all of our senses, our senses are there to meet the world. No wonder that the Gospels are full of everyday images, no wonder that the Creator came into his creation to teach us the full potential of our sense organisation. ‘A sower went out to sow his seed…’, depending on how we look, listen, come into an exchange with the earth and each other, our separateness is overcome and we are released out of isolation into a new enriched connectedness. When Jesus calls the children to be brought to him, speaks and touches them, how would he have looked at them, spoken to them? What would have remained in these children that touched their core, never to be forgotten again; what kind of affirmation of their being would he have given through this encounter? In this we have an expression of the gesture that emanates from Christ continually even today: Come. I see you. I hear you. Let your heart be touched by me.
The spiritual world always ‘sees’ us, but it is through the new spiritual Coming closer of Christ in our time, that human beings today are sensitised to the fact that the physical senses can be transformed into spiritual senses. Therefore, a deeper longing for ‘being seen and heard and embraced for who I am’ is awakened in us. Maybe it is also Christ who has this same longing towards us, too? Our sensual nature defines separateness, and yet it can also create connectedness and lasting relationship.
by Rev. Reingard Knausenberge
For the past 30 years I have been noticing a tree which began to grow on a large rock inconveniently situated alongside a busy two-lane road linking two major traffic arteries in Rivonia, Johannesburg. During the lock-down in April I finally saw my chance to take a photo of it. I could stand in the middle of the road and take my time really visiting this astounding tree. As a young vulnerable sapling it survived our long dry winters and also some dry summers. The tree was once even chopped down, –but see how it has grown again in full strength. The root has split the rock and who knows how deep it reaches. The possibility to grow up again lay in its roots. Whenever I mention this tree, everyone always knows it! It hasn’t physically moved from its spot, but it has moved many hearts.
Especially now in this time of a world being thrown into uncertainty and confusion, the resilience and steadfastness of this tree has struck me as a visionary image. What if we could do that, accept: here I am, this is my place, this is where destiny unfolds for me, and I send down my roots right here. My whole life has a focus: to be present, here where I am, now. This is what I was born for. I am in the right place at the right time. No matter what the resistances, I can adjust and strengthen my presence. What anchors me in the depth of my being is what matters to keep on growing. This is commitment. This is active faith.
This is a ‘tree message’ also to us as community, here in Johannesburg. Our congregation is deeply alive and rooted, even if what is above ground can look weak and vulnerable. Now is the time to ignite our spiritual potential anew and awaken more deeply – and connect to the power of the Christ-Life we are anchored in, to this deep-rooted healing power of the sacraments which give meaning, direction and energy to deal with adverse circumstances; to be aware of the exponential ability to magnify this power through the common inner focus of being part of a greater community, from local, to region, to continent, to world embrace.
This is what a tree does: it grows from the core upward and outward by strengthening its roots. We can do that, too, as a conscious community celebrating the Act of Consecration of Man. This is how we will grow as a congregation. This is our task now, in the right place at the right time in this city which needs our presence.
The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn this year is rightly considered ‘the great one’. No encounter of any other visible planets has such a slow measured pace and dominates the night sky over a period of many years. It is the mightiest of all encounters in our solar system. Approximately every 19,86 years Jupiter and Saturn encounter each other, so that every ten years they stand together and then opposite each other—a ten-year pulse in our solar system. …This year Jupiter and Saturn meet in the space transitioning between Capricorn and Sagittarius. The last time they met in this area of the zodiac like this was in the year 1107.
At Easter this year the three outer planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were within a span of only 8° from each other in the northern morning skies, with Jupiter and Saturn only 5° apart. Their close and impressive proximity to each other was a prelude for the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at Christmastide this year. As such, Easter and Christmas are bound together this year. Now in winter and into spring, like taking a last deep breath before the great meeting, is the loop movement of both planets. Jupiter releases itself out of the close proximity to Saturn a last time. It is interesting to observe now in the evening sky, if and how the new distance of 8° between the two, still seem as if they are a double star like in May when they were only 5° apart. Delightful, though, is that the gap between the two journeyers swings within the space between the two constellations of Sagittarius and Capricorn. It is like a planetary interval within the stellar interval: a gap within a gap which they create.
This is the drama we can observe throughout the winter nights as they move from evening north-east to midnight in the north and morning north-west. Saturn ends its retrograde loop on Michaelmas day, 29th September, while Jupiter ends its loop on 13th September. It is like a pause before both planets begin their renewed movement towards each other first slowly, then ever more clearly noticeable: both heading towards the great conjunction. It is worthwhile looking up into the north eastern evening sky during the next three months and follow how these two giants on the periphery of our solar system ‘reach out’ towards each other. During this sojourn the constellation moves towards the north western horizon. The two flanking zodiac images of Sagittarius and Capricorn will pale, while only Jupiter and Saturn remain visible like a double star in the fading evening light.
Thus the weeks of Advent take on a double meaning. It is not only about the arrival and birth of God, but also the conjunction of the two planets. They stand as two principles which can be ‘read’ clearly, because they are standing so close side by side. Jupiter’s light shines out brightly, extroverted, while Saturn’s light is drawn inward, introverted. Jupiter as the planet of order and power of thinking and Saturn as the planet of memory and maturing: two principles, which together epitomise what is Christian, are united in this conjunction. Just like Christ continuously refers back to the Old Testament and Jewish tradition while also separating himself from them as a new step (“Yet I say to you…”), so does Saturn represent history and Jupiter the present.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn has a Christian signature. In different ways, not least of all that Johannes Kepler understood the threefold conjunction of the two in the year 7 B.C. as the Star of the Wise Men. The great conjunction is not only an event of Jupiter and Saturn, but also of earth and sun and—with Pluto—the furthest periphery. It also orchestrates Mars and Venus. Mars is doing its loop in Pisces, the zodiac sign which like none other became a symbol of Christianity. The threefold conjunction of 7 B.C. occurred in this sign. Mars, the planet of energy and vigour, is active in this sign of carefully questioning and tentative feeling into…also this belongs to this year 2020.
And finally Venus is also lined up: rushing forward this year in an impressive upward rising. While Jupiter and Saturn dominant the evening sky, Venus dominates the morning. High in the sky in the early spring mornings she moves from Cancer and its centre, ‘the crib’ (the open star cluster Presepe), to the ear of wheat in Virgo’s hand: a journey from birth to maturity.
Invisible for the naked eye and only to be seen with a very strong telescope is the far-off small planet Pluto, situated within the span which Jupiter and Saturn create between themselves. Also at the great conjunction on 21st December Pluto will be there. Maybe this is an image indicating that this conjunction on the day of the summer solstice is not just an event of earth and sun, but also an event of the furthest radius of our circumference.
(Reference: Sternkalender 2020/2021, Verlag am Goetheanum, articles by Wolfgang Held, pgs.6/7, 122,124. Translated by R. Knausenberger)
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